LAHORE: The federal government is all set to increase gas tariff for industrial units in Sindh within two weeks as the authorities have almost completed work in this regard.
However, the gas prices for the units in Punjab will not be raised since these are already much higher than in the country’s southern region, according to Muhammad Ali, the caretaker federal Minister for Energy, Power and Petroleum.
“It will take almost two weeks to finally announce increase in the gas prices for industry in south, as we have to take approval from the cabinet and the prime minister,” the minister said while taking to Dawn after attending a gathering of business community on Thursday. “The price disparity between South and North will continue. But it will not be as big as it is present,” he added.
Earlier while speaking to the business community, Mr Ali admitted there was disparity in gas prices, saying that the rates were much higher in the northern region than in the southern.
Rules out any improvement in supplies during winter
According to him, since the disparity in gas prices is a major issue, the government would soon rationalise them by increasing the industrial tariff in the south, and not in the north, as it is already much higher. “But we have a plan not to burden the common people. If we decide to raise the tariff in Punjab, the hike for small consumers will range between Rs400 and Rs 500 per month only,” he maintained.
Talking about gas supply, the minister said the government wouldn’t be able to resolve this issue during the coming winter even if it succeeds in importing LNG cargoes and running the two LNG terminals which regasify LNG at full capacity.
“But arrival of consignments in time and running of terminals at full capacity, will take care of complaints about gas supply to a large extent,” he maintained.
Talking about electricity prices, he said these were already on the higher said due to power theft, capacity payments and related factors.
The government, according to him, has started work on the issue of capacity payments (by negotiating with IPPs).
“Action against power theft has already been launched across the country. And within 10 days or so, we have succeeded in recovering Rs6 billion from electricity thieves and defaulters,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Gohar Ejaz, the caretaker federal Minister for Industries and Production Division, said disparity in gas prices must be resolved.
“We urge the government to set the gas tariff for industry on the weighted average cost of gas (WACOG),” he said.
Published in Dawn, September 22th, 2023